Need another sign that the Boy Scouts of America have a serious problem with gays? His name is Ryan Andresen, and he's worked his way all the way up to Eagle Scout over the years, putting in the same kind of effort as every other boy trying to get the Scouts' top rank. Only now the BSA has decided the teenager doesn't actually deserve the coveted badge ... because he's gay.
The whole fiasco has taken the Internet by storm, and Andresen is getting support by the thousands in the form of the angry masses singing a petition put together by his mom, demanding the BSA give in and give him his darn badge. Good for Mom for standing by her son, but I think it's high time we acknowledge the rather large and gray elephant in the room, don't you?
What the heck was a gay kid doing in the Boy Scouts of America in the first place?
It's a group known the world over for being homophobic, and they're not closeted about it. Just this past summer we were treated to an official announcement from the powers-that-be at the private organization that they will continue to discriminate against LGBT kids and adults who would like to volunteer. It's sad, but as the courts have reminded us again and again, as a privately-funded organization with religious roots, the Boy Scouts can get away with it.
Which means they can tell Ryan Andresen where to stick it, and no amount of petitions from his mom can change their minds.
So I ask again: why did Karen Andresen continue to push her gay son through the ranks of a homophobic organization? From the sounds of it, she's a supportive mom who understands that her son was born this way. That's a parenting win right there.
But encouraging him to stay with Scouts means she was either telling her son, "Oh honey, don't worry, the rules don't apply to you," or she was setting him up to be screwed by a system that was specifically designed to tell him there's something wrong with him. It probably wasn't intentional on Karen's part, but sadly, either option smacks of poor parenting.
Kids don't need to be molded to meet the requirements of some narrow-minded group like the Boy Scouts. They need true support. And they need to know that there are some places where they can't or shouldn't go, places where you can't suddenly have the rules changed to fit you.
What a kid like Ryan needs is to be guided toward an organization where he can do something positive for the world regardless of his sexual orientation. Kids need to find a place where their efforts are valued not undermined because those are the types of organizations that turn out good citizens.
The petition to get Ryan his Eagle Scout is well-meant, but it doesn't address the real problem here. We don't need an organization to change its rules for a kid; we need families to value their kids over an organization.
Would you sign the petition for Ryan or do you think the denial of his Eagle Scout was to be expected?
Image via anja_johnson/Flickr